REVIEW: Bastille at Summerfest, 6/24/2015

Coming off of an extraordinary run throughout the past two years, Bastille took their set to the Miller Lite Oasis for the opening night of Summerfest, where they unfortunately became victims of circumstance. For whatever reason, the festival’s opening night doesn’t always seem to be the ideal slot for headliners, as I fondly remember from last year’s energy-depraved Arctic Monkeys crowd on the same Oasis stage. Whether it be the people dying to get in with the sole intentions of getting drunk on a Wednesday night in the name of summer, or following the Big Bang (which was really good this year), there always seems to be something in the way of a solid opening night show.

In terms of last night, Bastille had a multitude of things working against them. Vocalist Dan Smith apologized early in the set, claiming that he has been losing his voice, which is commonplace with extensive touring (It also seemed like a perfect reason to get the crowd singing along). The biggest problem, however, seemed to be noisy neighbors Kaskade, who was bringing the EDM at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. While Bastille were predicted to be one of the busier shows of the festival, a la shows like said Arctic Monkeys in 2014 and that infamous Imagine Dragons show the year prior, there was a foreign experience for the non-bleacher crowd at the Miller Lite Oasis; breathing room and/or almost full range of motion. Their biggest obstacle, however, were the multitudes of festival-goers eager to see what the laser, smoke, and confetti-filled party next door was all about, even if they just dipped in and out for one or two songs.

Onstage, however, Bastille were very much in their element, and looked very much like veterans to the festival circuit. Armed with extra floor toms that were always within striking range, the group got the crowd energized with their opener, “Things We Lost In The Fire”. Smith moved around the stage quite expertly, with an aura of cool that was reflected in his backwards baseball cap. The group flew through songs from breakout album “Bad Blood”, mostly floor lit to start the show. As the set progressed, the energy picked up, with highlights including the frantic, jittery intro to “Weight of Living, Pt. II”, and the sing-or-shriek-along that occurred during “Flaws”, as Smith made his way throughout the crowd. ‘90s kids everywhere felt compelled to sing along to a cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs”, because everyone secretly knows all the words to that song, and admit it, you do, too. Spoken tracks piped through the sound system served as interludes from one song to another, though at times they were slightly indiscernible on the sides of the bleachers. The set closed out with title track/single “Bad Blood” which got the crowd moving.

Bastille may have been fully aware of what was happening over at the Roadhouse, because they barely took any time between the end of their set and the beginning of their encore (which actually may still have been their set with no encore?). Once they returned from the short break, the crowd was still buzzing, desperately awaiting “Pompeii”, the band’s breakout single. Smith and co. were at their peak by the encore, banging away at the additional percussion, with the lead making his way out to the ends of the crowd as much as possible for that additional pop from that particular side of the Oasis. Smith then sincerely thanked the crowd for putting up with his lack of voice at times, and even the casual fans were completely into “Pompeii”, which closed out the night.
All in all, Bastille did everything they could to ensure a great show for the opening night of Summerfest. They were certainly not at fault, but at times, heads naturally turned to the commotion playing next to them. But for the fans that were definitely intent on seeing Bastille, the band certainly delivered, and that’s something to be an optimist about.

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